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Women still vastly outnumbered by men in business world, study alleges

The “glass ceiling” hindering women’s opportunities in the workforce is still in place, particularly in the business sector, a new study has suggested.

The study, entitled “Pipeline’s Broken Promise” and conducted by the non-profit research organization Catalyst, found women occupy only 15 percent of board seats at Fortune 500 companies and make up just 3 percent of CEOs.

Not only are leadership positions vastly one-sided, but there are also pay differences for men and women with the same qualifications.

The average pay women receive in their first post-MBA job is $4,600 less than men, regardless of job level, according to the study. Men also start their first post-MBA jobs at higher positions than women and earn more throughout their careers, regardless of region, experience, goals and parenthood.

In the study, Catalyst, which on its website states that it is dedicated to “expanding opportunities for women and business, said that it “set out to explore how the ‘best and the brightest’- high potential women and men MBAs for whom much was paid and from whom much was expected -have fared post-MBA.”

Its conclusion was that women “lag men in advancement and compensation.”

Carrie Preston, a professor in Boston University’s Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program, expanded on the study’s findings.

“We will need to think more creatively about what is causing the disparity, and we will need to consider factors beyond qualifications and the sometimes overly simplistic understanding of ‘the glass ceiling’ as overt discrimination,” Preston said.

More must be done not only nationally, but globally to provide more equal opportunities for women in the work place, Preston said.

“Deeply ingrained attitudes, values, socialization standards and traditional gender role orientations affect wages as does the unequal distribution of childcare and domestic labor,” she said. “It may be that the structure and organization of businesses need to be reformed.”

The discrepancy is due to a variety of factors including the lack of support women have in terms of balancing a career with having children, said Meaghan Faulkner, a manager at the Women’s Resource Center at BU.

“It’s still a culture of largely men in upper positions and it can be harder for women to break into this ‘boys’ club’ culture,” Faulkner said.

A major problem in women’s equality is the workforce’s procedure towards motherhood, she said.

“Women don’t have a lot of support between work and home life,” she said. “They aren’t always guaranteed their jobs back after maternity leave, and they aren’t encouraged to ask for more money.”

While BU students don’t agree with these practices, they are not surprised about the statistics.

“It doesn’t surprise me at all,” said Nina Monestime, a Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences freshman. “We still have problems with racism, so why would we not have problems with other types of discrimination?”

With gender discrimination still evident in today’s culture, something needs to be changed, said College of Arts and Sciences freshman Kolby Weisenburger.

“With a number like 3 percent, discrimination obviously still exists,” Weisenburger said. “It needs to be brought to people’s attention so maybe it will change.”

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